Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer

Why was FlashForward canceled?

by Rob - June 23rd, 2013.
Filed under: FlashForward.

Over on Quora, someone asked why FlashForward was canceled, and someone else replied with an answer that was partially right but significantly wrong. That answer:

The Lost curse. In the 6 years that Lost was on the air, ABC failed at using that monster hit to launch any new shows. The term “Flash Forward” was first used in the third season finale of Lost, and the show featured Lost alumni Dominic Monaghan and Sonya Walger.

ABC launched FlashForward as well as a remake of V (with Lost‘s Elizabeth Mitchell) as shows that would take on Lost‘s audience after it ended. At the end, it was reported a choice between FlashForward and V over which one would continue, and ABC went with V, which only lasted one more season.

My response:

Despite XXXX’s comment (he asserts “the term ‘Flash Forward’ was first used in the third season finale of Lost” — as if that’s where the idea came from), that’s just not true.

FlashForward the TV series was an adaptation of my 1999 novel of the same name, published five years before the first season of Lost debuted.

More: as announced in Variety on 26 September 2002 — two years before Lost debuted — David Goyer was attached then to write, direct, and produce an adaptation of my novel FlashForward … which is precisely what Dave eventually went on to do (co-authoring the pilot with Brannon Braga).

Also, the pilot script for FlashForward was developed at HBO (which is why HBO is credited on each episode); HBO was not looking to imitate anything on broadcast TV. The casting of Sonya Walger (who appeared in only 14 of the 121 episodes of Lost) as FlashForward‘s female lead was in no way an attempt at Lost-related stunt casting.

FlashForward was cancelled for two reasons. The first was scheduling: the series was not suitable viewing for 8:00 p.m. / 7:00 p.m. Central (the traditional TV “family hour”), but that’s when ABC slotted it (and kept it for its entire run): the intensity, violence, gun use, and presence of a major lesbian character, brilliantly played by Christine Woods, is not what America wanted in that timeslot. So, by the end of the first season, the ratings were low.

The second reason was budgetary: Stephen McPherson, then president of ABC, did only want to keep one science-fiction show. In the end, we were delivering the same ratings each week as V, also on ABC, but we were produced in Los Angeles and had an expensive cast; V was produced in Vancouver and had a much less expensive cast. So, V was (sort of) renewed and we were not.

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8 Responses to Why was FlashForward canceled?

  1. Also, the show just wasn’t that good. It was over-acted, over-dramatic, and almost nothing like your book, which I enjoyed thoroughly. Maybe if they stuck to the source material, it would have earned higher ratings?

  2. I’ve all but given up on television all together, and especially the Big Three (ABC/NBC/CBS) U.S. networks, over their track record of cancelling great Sci-Fi shows. It doesn’t really matter why the show was cancelled, at least from an emotional stand point. Once you are drawn into the show, and begin relating to the characters, it can be a real blow when you get cut off from your weekly fix.

    For the record, “Defying Gravity” was the worst; ABC didn’t even finish the season out. That was when I decided that I wasn’t going to go out of my way to get emotionally invested in television anymore. If it’s on Netflix, or BBC America, I might take a look, but otherwise, I’d rather read a book.

    Regards,
    Art Hall

    P.S. – Keep the books coming; I haven’t been disappointed yet! :)

  3. I think
    the reason is more simple than these
    they were afraid… when had been seeing it’s coming true

  4. I really enjoyed this programme and I am very disappointed at the fact that it was cancelled. I was wondering and hoping if you were planning to bring it back at all?
    I would love to see the second season. This was actually recommended to me by a few of my friends and they are also hoping for it to be continued.

    Sincerely,
    Flash Forward Viewer

  5. Thank you, Jack. Sadly, at this point, there’s virtually no chance of the show coming back. All of the actors, as well as the writers, including myself, have gone on to other things.

  6. I too thoroughly enjoyed the both the book and the television adaptation. Having recently purchased and watched the DVD set of the programme, I was saddened to realise that there would not be another series, but it also left me feeling that with so many loose ends and threads of storylines floating about, I can picture my own conclusions… perhaps this is unsatisfactory to some, but it pushes one to use ones own imagination.
    No bad thing.

  7. i really loved the twists and turns of events in the first season especially the manner in which suspence was created at the end of the season this fully prepared one 2 watching even a more intreasting and eye catching season 2 of the series and i really looked foward to watching the second season only to realize that the show had completely gone offline… n despite the great hope n expectation tht i had ae only wea left wth one last n only standing option which was to come up wth my own conclutions n turn of events that wea rather not real but rather made up to satisfy my ego….i really would love it if ‘better angels’ would rise n turn the future n fate of the television show n thus grant us the second chance to watch the second season of flashfoward..

    sincerely,
    ‘better Angel’

  8. I just finished watching the 22 episodes of season 1 in just a few days. Watched it on Hulu. Really enjoyed it and wish the show had not been cancelled. The flashes of the next possible futures, though brief, were intriguing. Will hope that someone, somewhere will decide to bring the show back.

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